George Lisle. I Didn’t Know Either

I was reading a post from “Wasted Evangelism” on George Leile (or Lisle or Liele or Sharp) (1750–1828). The article is HERE.lisle


He was the first American Missionary to serve in another nation… in this case, Jamaica. He was an emancipated slave, who actually sold himself back into slavery (indentured servitude) to be able to act as a missionary in Jamaica. That is amazing. Chip Anderson had mentioned that he had never heard of George Lisle until recently. I hadn’t heard of him either before reading that article. I teach Missions History at times, so I am familiar with the Judsons, Luther Rice, as well as Elliot, Wheelock, and Brainerd (not placed in chronological order) from early American missions.

His story is definitely worth reading, and wonder why it is not well-known? It could be a bit of Missions racism, or perhaps residual embarrassment about the relationship between the US and slavery. Since he was a Baptist missionary (and I am Baptist) it seems quite unacceptable the gap in my knowledge.

Curiously, the first single female American missionary, Betsey Stockton (1798-1865), was also an African American who was born into slavery before her manumission. She served as a missionary and educator in Maui (Hawaii, the Sandwich Islands were not then part of the US) from 1822 to 1825.


I have never really celebrated “Black History Month” (partly since I haven’t lived in the US for over a decade) but George and Betsey are certainly worth celebration and our deep respect.

For more on George Lisle, you can read the article form Boston University HERE. Or from another website HERE.

For more on Betsey Stockton and the journal she kept, click HERE.

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